While it is well-known that Russia may be one of the most difficult countries to visit, especially for Americans, it is possible to step foot on Russian soil without a visa. Since May 2009 cruise ship passengers have been permitted to stay in Russia visa-free for up to 72 hours. Visitors may arrive into Russia through the ports of Anadyr, Kaliningrad, Korsakov, Novorossiysk, Sevastopol, Sochi, St. Petersburg, Vladivostok and Vyborg without obtaining a visa.
St. Peter Line offers affordable ferry cruises to St. Petersburg from Helsinki, Finland, Stockholm, Sweden and Tallinn, Estonia. While a valid passport is required, St. Peter Line offers two options on the Princess Maria for exploring Russia from Finland:
- Option 1: 24 Hour Pass. Depart Helsinki at 6 p.m., sleep aboard the ferry and arrive into the port of St. Petersburg at 9:30 a.m. For an additional 25 Euro, take advantage of the ferry's shuttle service to be transported to three center stops in the city and explore on your own. The ferry departs at 7 p.m. After a second overnight on the ferry, you arrive back at the port of Helsinki at 8 a.m.
- Option 2: 72 Hour Pass. If you would like to enjoy more time in Russia, there is an alternate option that has you arriving and departing at the same times to the port of St. Petersburg but grants you the flexibility to stay up to two nights at a hotel in St. Petersburg.